University HealthCare Alliance

April 01, 2019

The Magic Pill Exercise 2019

Keep Looking for the Magic Pill

I want to give you a pill that can:

  • Improve your cognition
  • Reduce risk of dementia
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Reduce risk of depression
  • Improve sleep
  • Lower risk of cancer
  • Lead to weight loss
  • Improved your quality of life
  • Lower risk of chronic disease.
  • Lower risk of all-cause mortality

But you can’t purchase it.  You have to run to my house to pick up the pill.  While you are there, you can help me with my landscaping.  Afterwards, we are going to need to go on a hike; so I can show you where I’ve hidden the pill.  Okay… it’s not a pill.  The pill and the prize is exercise.   Good news!  While the rewards of exercise are dose dependent, even a little bit of exercise could help.  If you stop to do 30 squats every day, which will take under 5 minutes, you will reap the benefits.   That said, a study published in 2017  suggested that decline in the cellular health of muscles associated with aging was “corrected” with exercise, especially if it was intense.  That’s right; interval training makes you younger (or at least your muscles), and it’s never too late to start exercise. Meanwhile brain aerobic exercise has been associated with neurogenesis in the hippocampus, so cross training is the best approach to produce muscular and cognitive rewards, while simultaneously elevating your mood (even with low intensity resistance exercise).

In November 2018 the US Department of Health and Human services updated their exercise recommendations, which might be a good resource to share with your patients while you also MODEL the behavior for them.  Adults should do at least 150 to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity (or an equivalent combination).  So, grab a friend and get out looking for the magic pill!  I hope you never find it; the reward is in the journey!